Kalamazoo County Finds PFAS in Drinking Water

Oct. 29, 2019

Three private residential wells in northern Kalamazoo County, Mich., detected per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) levels above the health advisory limit.

Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE) found three private residential wells in northern Kalamazoo County with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) levels above the health advisory limit of 70 ppt, according to MLive Kalamazoo

Two wells detected perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) at concentrations around 130 ppt, and the third well had PFOA around 150 ppt, reported EGLE. Three households were notified their water source tested higher than the EPA’s PFAS limits. Point-of-use filters will be installed in the homes to mitigate the issue. 

The investigation of these drinking water wells was prompted by a contamination of Menasha Paper industrial landfill waste into farms in Kalamazoo and Allegan counties, reported Allegan News. Citizens in the Otsego area advocated for investigations based on the number of people with health concerns in the area, according to MLive Kalamazoo.

“We’re getting to the bottom of what contaminants we have out here and what that means going forward,” said EGLE district supervisor Dave Heywood to MLive Kalamazoo.

Mark Johnson, regional director for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), told MLive that paper mill sludges previously impacted Otsego municipal and private wells due to a biocide used as an antibacterial agent.

“A sampling plan was developed to characterize the current conditions, to understand whether or not there is a risk to the community currently – acknowledging the fact there could’ve been exposures in the past that we can’t fully characterize,” Johnson said.

EGLE tested several water wells in 2018 for contaminants including dioxins and PFAS. Some wells were found with detections of PFAS, but none were above the advisory level.

Menasha Corp. is expected to submit a work plan related to the investigation, said EGLE to MLive Kalamazoo.

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